There were several events that led to the attack on Fort Sumter. In the 1850s and the 1860s, several events occurred that drove the country further apart. The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 led to conflict in Kansas. Since the people would decide if slavery would exist in Kansas, both pro-slavery people and anti-slavery people clashed over the issue. While slavery could have existed in Nebraska, it wasn’t practical for that to happen. As a result of the fighting in Kansas, two governments were established. One was pro-slavery while the other was anti-slavery. Lives were lost and property was destroyed as a result of the fighting.
Another issue dividing the country was the Dred Scott decision. The Supreme Court ruled in 1857 the slaves were property and could be taken anywhere. The ruling also stated that the Missouri Compromise was illegal. It also said that popular sovereignty was illegal. Southerners were delighted with the ruling while northerners were upset with it.
The Lincoln-Douglas debates in 1858 also contributed to the attack on Fort Sumter. When Stephen Douglas talked about how states could be unfriendly to slavery, in what was known as the Freeport Doctrine, Southern Democrats knew they could never support him. This split the Democratic Party and contributed to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President in 1860. Southerners had no trust in Abraham Lincoln.
The events at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in 1859 also showed the divide that existed in our country. When John Brown attacked a federal arsenal in hopes of starting a slave revolt, southerners were horrified. Northerners, however, praised him as a martyr. While this attack was unsuccessful in starting a slave revolt, it showed how differently the South and the North viewed certain events.
The election of 1860 also led to the start of the Civil War. When Abraham Lincoln won the election, southerners were convinced he was going to end slavery. Even though President Lincoln never said he would end slavery, southerners were convinced he would do that. While President Lincoln was against slavery, he was prepared to allow it to remain where it already existed. President Lincoln’s goal was to keep the country together.
It was no surprise when southerners attacked the ships heading to Fort Sumter. President Lincoln was trying to bring supplies to this fort that was located in South Carolina. The southerners couldn’t let that happen, as it would be an acknowledgement that they were still under the control of the United States.